HomeownerEducational: A-M

Cabinets – Custom

Cabinets – Custom

Selecting your Cabinets

Custom cabinets are made to fit an existing space. These cabinets take time and skill to build, but they are high quality and a good choice for areas with nonstandard dimensions.

Stock cabinets are offered in standard sizes, so choices of designs and materials are limited compared to custom cabinets.

Semi-stock cabinets also come in standard sizes, but customers can choose from a wider range of sizes and other customization options.


Solid wood is the most popular and desirable cabinet material. Popular woods include maple, alder, poplar, cherry, and mahogany. A wood’s grade is a measure of the material’s imperfections—a lesser grade typically means a lower price.

MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is a dense composite material made from wood fibers and adhesives. Because its surface is smooth and holds paints well, MDF is often used for painted cabinet doors.

Plywood is made by compressing thin layers of wood veneer. Plywood is generally considered superior to particleboard in quality and performance. Plywood is often used for cabinet boxes.

Metal, specifically steel, cabinets are growing in popularity because of their relatively low cost and unique aesthetic appeal. Steel cabinets are typically available only in stock sizes.

Veneers and Finishes

Wood veneers are thin sheets of finished wood glued to a plywood or particleboard base. They offer a popular and less expensive alternative to solid wood.

Laminate and Thermofoil are economical choices and are easy to clean and maintain. Thermofoil is a cabinet finish that is created by using heat and pressure to bond vinyl film to a fiberboard base. When properly cared for, Thermofoil and laminate cabinets can last for many years, but it’s important to avoid subjecting the surfaces to extreme heat.

Staining and painting can dramatically change the look of cabinetry and can help protect the wood. Properly prepping the surface ensures that the paint or stain will adhere well.

Door Styles

Full overlay cabinet doors completely cover the cabinet frame. Full overlay doors are often used in minimalist and modern design schemes.

Partial overlay cabinet doors reveal a small amount of the cabinet frame. Partial overlay doors lend a more traditional look to the cabinets.

Inset cabinet doors are mounted inside the cabinet box and require exposed hinges. Inset doors tend to be more expensive because of the skill level involved in their construction and installation.